EARTHQUAKE PREPAREDNESS GUIDE:
A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO INDIVIDUAL EARTHQUAKE PREPAREDNESS
Compiled by: Survival Bill/ Certified Safety Technician
The information contained in this brochure was compiled from many
sources. Primary among these are the American Red Cross, Pacific
Telephone, General Telephone. Most of the
credit, therefore, belongs to these fine organizations. My
involvement was to gather information from available sources and
compile it into a single document.
I have added comments or details throughout the brochure for
clarity or to expand upon facts and recommendations. I have
taken many hours and great care in the preparation of this
document. Although the information contained herein is believed
to be accurate, it is subject to error and no guarantee is
expressed or implied as to completeness or accuracy.
In no event shall I accept any liability , whether direct or
consequential, for damage or injuries resulting from
implementation of the recommendations presented in this
This information is presented as a public service only.
Special circumstances and your own good sense may modify your
individual approach to earthquake preparedness. I release this
brochure to the public domain in the spirit of universal
brotherhood and friendship. No fee or royalty is to be charged
for its distribution.
THE EARTHQUAKE POTENTIAL:
Geologists have forecast a 50/50 chance of Southern California
being struck by a great earthquake (8.0 or greater) along the
Southern San Andreas Fault within the next 15 years.
When it happens, the impact on Southern California will be
enormous. Police, fire, utilities and medical services will be
overwhelmed. Cities within Southern California Counties that
would normally help each other in a large Emergency may be too
busy with their own problems to provide mutual aid.
It may take days or weeks in many areas to restore electricity,
gas, water or telephones. Devastated roads will make travel
anywhere difficult or impossible. Disaster planners have warned
us to be prepared to be "on our own" for at least the first 72
hours after the earthquake. Much can be done to prepare now,
before the great earthquake strikes Southern California
By learning the potential hazards of earthquakes and by taking
certain preparedness measures NOW, you can survive an earthquake
and minimize its dangerous and damaging impact. There will NEVER
be a better time than NOW for you and your family to prepare
for this cataclysmic event.
PLEASE take the time to read and understand this brochure.
Follow the directions for preparing your three-day survival
pack. Store this brochure with your survival pack for later
The actual movement of the ground in an earthquake is seldom the
direct cause of death or injury. Most casualties result from
falling objects and debris because the shocks can shake, damage,
or demolish buildings, bridges, and other man-made structures.
Earthquakes can also trigger landslides and generate huge ocean
waves called tsunamis. Both of these can cause great damage and
loss of life.
Earthquake-related injuries are commonly caused by:
1) Partial building collapses, such as toppling chimneys,
falling bricks from wall Facings and roof parapets,
collapsing walls, falling ceiling plaster, light fixtures, and
2) Flying or falling glass from broken windows. (This
danger may be greater in modern high-rise buildings.)
3) Overturned bookcases, fixtures, and other furniture and
4) Fires from broken chimneys, broken gas and electric lines,
or spilled flammable liquids. The danger may be aggravated by
the lack of water due to broken water mains.
5) Fallen Power lines.
6) Human panic reactions, such as crowds stampeding for
stairways or exits.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?:
There are many actions you can take to reduce the danger from
earthquakes to yourself, your family, and others.
A) BEFORE AN EARTHQUAKE OCCURS:
1) As a homeowner or tenant:
A) Check your home for earthquake hazards. Bolt down or
provide other strong support for water heaters and other gas
appliances, since fire damage can result from broken gas lines
and appliance connections.
Use flexible connections wherever possible. Place large or heavy
objects on the lower shelves. Securely fasten shelves to walls.
Brace or anchor high or top-heavy objects.
B) In new construction or alterations, follow building codes to
minimize earthquake hazards. Sites for construction should be
selected and engineered to reduce the hazards of damage from an
2) As a parent or head of family:
A) Hold occasional home earthquake drills to provide your
family with the knowledge to avoid injury and panic during an
B) Teach responsible members of your family how to turn off
electricity, gas, and water at the main switch and valves. If in
doubt, check with your local utilities offices for
C) Provide for responsible members of your family to receive
basic first aid and C.P.R. (cardio-pulminary resuscitation)
instruction because medical facilities may be overloaded
immediately after an earthquake. Call Red Cross Safety Services
for information about classes.
D) Keep a flashlight and a battery-powered transistor radio in
the home, ready for use at all times. Keep fresh batteries
with these items.
E) Keep immunizations up-to-date for all family members.
F) Conduct calm family discussions about earthquakes and other
possible disasters. Avoid frightening disaster stories, but
talk frankly and rationally about the possible consequences of
G) Maintain a 2-3 day supply of food and water. However, to
maintain freshness it is important to rotate this stock
B) DURING AN EARTHQUAKE:
1) The most important thing you can do during an
earthquake is to remain calm.
By doing this, you will be in a better position to assess
your situation and instill confidence in those around you. Think
through the consequences of any actions you take. Try to calm and
2) If indoors, stay there. If you happen to be in the kitchen,
turn off the stove at the first sign of shaking. Watch for
falling plaster, bricks, light fixtures and other objects.
Watch out for high bookcases, china cabinets, shelves, and other
furniture or appliances which might fall or topple.
Stay away from windows, mirrors, and chimneys. If in danger, get
under a table, desk or bed; in a corner away from windows;
or in a strong doorway. Encourage others to follow your
example. Do not run outdoors - you may be hit by falling debris
or electrical wires.
3) If in a high-rise office building, move away from windows
and outside walls. Get under a desk or table. Do not dash for
exits, since stairways may be broken or jammed with people.
Power for elevators may fail.
4) If in a crowded store, do not rush for a doorway since
hundreds may have the same idea. If you MUST leave the
building, choose your exit as carefully as possible.
5) If outside, avoid high buildings, walls, power poles, and
other objects which could fall during the earthquake. If
possible, move to an open area away from all hazards.
6) If in an automobile, pull your car to the side of the road
and stop in the safest place available. Avoid bridges,
overpasses, and power lines. Remain inside your car until the
shaking is over. Turn on your radio for news & information.
Proceed with extreme caution because of the danger of debris in
the road or damage to the road itself.
C) AFTER AN EARTHQUAKE:
1) Check for injuries to your family and your neighborhood.
Do not attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are
in danger of further injury.
2) Check for fires or fire hazards.
3) Wear shoes in all areas near debris or broken glass.
4) Do not touch downed power lines or objects touched by the
5) Immediately clean up spilled medicines, drugs, and other
potentially harmful materials.
6) Check for damaged utilities.
A) Inspect for leaking gas lines by smell only; do not use
candles, matches, or other open flames.
If you smell gas, open all windows and doors so gas can
escape. Shut off the main valve at your
gas meter, leave the house immediately, and notify authorities of
the leak. Do not re-enter the house until repairs has been made
and the dwelling has been declared safe.
B) If water pipes are broken, shut off the main valve which
brings water into the house.
C) If the house is properly wired, internal trouble with
the electricity is very unlikely. If there is a short circuit,
turn off the electricity at the meter box.
7) If water is off, emergency water may be obtained from
melted ice cubes, from canned vegetables, from toilet tanks (if
no blueing or sanitizing chemicals have been added), from
swimming pools and spas, and from water heaters (strain this
water through a clean handkerchief first).
8) Check to see that sewage lines are intact before permitting
continued flushing of toilets.
9) Do not eat or drink anything from open containers near
shattered glass. Liquids can be strained through a clean
handkerchief or cloth if the danger of glass contamination
10) If power is off, check your freezer and plan meals to use up
foods which will spoil quickly.
11) Use outdoor charcoal or propane broilers for emergency
cooking. Do not bring these items indoors. The accumulation of
fumes from their use can be deadly.
12) Do not use your telephone except for genuine emergency
13) Check your chimney over its entire length for cracks &
damage, particularly in the attic and at the roof line.
Unnoticed damage could lead to a fire or collapse in
aftershocks. The initial check should be made from a distance.
Approach chimneys with caution.
14) Check closets and storage shelf areas. Open closet and
cupboard doors carefully and watch for objects falling from
15) Do not spread rumors. They often do great harm following
16) Tune-in to local radio stations for information and danger
17) Do not go sightseeing. Do not use your vehicle unless there
is a genuine emergency. Keep the streets clear for emergency
18) Be prepared for additional aftershocks. Although most of
these are smaller than the main shock, some may be strong enough
to cause additional damage.
19) Respond to requests for help from police, fire fighting,
civil defense, & relief organizations, but do not go into
damaged areas unless your help has been requested.
Cooperate fully with public-safety officials. In some areas, you
may be arrested for getting in the way of disaster operations.
20) Information concerning the welfare of separated family
members will be handled by the American Red Cross. Do not call
or go to the police or fire department for this
THREE-DAY SURVIVAL PACK:
Prepare, in advance, a 33-gallon plastic trash barrel to store
emergency supplies for yourself and members of your household.
The barrel should have a tight fitting or latching lid to keep
insects or household pets from disturbing your supplies.
Store the barrel in your garage or (better yet) in a backyard
storage shed. Make sure your supplies will be accessible in an
emergency. Store the barrel in such a manner that it will not
easily tip over and spill or damage the contents. Store your
emergency supplies in the barrel, in quantities sufficient to
meet the needs of your household for at least 72 hours.
BOTTOM OF THE BARREL:
Bedding / Plastic sheets/tarp / Sleeping bag /blankets / Clothing
/ One change per person.
Personal Supplies / Good book / Pencil/ Paper / Toiletries /
Towel. / Fuel and Light / Candles / Matches / Sterno canned
Axe / Bucket / Can opener / Dish pan / Disposable dishes /
Disposable utensils / Plastic bag liners / Shovel / Infant Needs
If applicable. / Money / Misc.: Eye dropper / Liquid chlorine
bleach / Water purification tablets
MIDDLE OF THE BARREL:
Food / Three-day supply of food requiring no refrigeration. Date
all food items and rotate stock as required to maintain
freshness. Write out a menu for each day.
Examples: Bottle of multi-vitamins / Canned fruit juice / Canned
tuna or pork and beans (1/2 lb./person) Dried fruit (1/2
lb./person)/ Graham crackers (1/2 lb./person) / Nonfat dry milk
(1/2 lb./person) Peanut butter (1/2 lb./person)
This supplies daily 2100 calories and ESSENTIAL nutrients.
Water (1 gal./person per day. Store water separately in sealed
TOP OF THE BARREL:
Flashlight, Radio, Spare Batteries.
First Aid Kit, including:
Drugs / Antibiotic Ointment / Aspirin Tablets (5 grain) /
Kaopectate / Medication recommended by your doctor.
Bandages / Ace bandage / Adhesive tape, 2" wide roll / Bandages,
plastic strips / Bandages, large triangular / Butterfly bandages
/ Cotton-tipped swabs / Gauze pads (4" x 4") / Sterile
absorbent cotton / Sterile gauze bandages, 2" & 4" wide rolls
First Aid handbook / Petroleum jelly / Pocket utility knife /
Rubbing alcohol / Scissors / Thermometer / Tissues/Tweezers.
The size of your family may require that more than one barrel be
used to store your three-day survival pack. Campers' supplies are
a good choice for many of the required items, because of their
compact and durable design.
Remember to check your stock regularly and replace out-of-date
If you have a tent, store it near your three-day survival pack.
If your house is severely damaged during the earthquake, your
tent may be your only shelter.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO COPE WITH EFFECTS OF EARTHQUAKE:
Following is a list of reminders of what to do to cope with
PREPARE SUPPLIES, including:
- Flashlights with spare batteries. / - A first aid kit and
instructional handbook. - Portable radios with extra batteries.
- Fire extinguishers.
- Airtight containers of water and purification tablets or
liquid chlorine bleach to disinfect water.
- A supply of canned or dehydrated foods, powdered milk, juices
and nutritional food items that do not require water for
- A manually-operated can opener. - A barbecue, camp stove or
other alternate means of cooking. - Plastic trash bags. / Gloves
- Bathroom items including toothpaste, toilet paper and soap. -
A pipe wrench and crescent wrench for turning off gas and water
PREPARE PLANS, including:
- How to shut off electricity, water heaters, water mains & gas.
(Do not, however, shut off the gas unless you suspect a leak or
can smell escaping gas).
- How to purify water. / Where to reunite your family. / The
safest places to take cover in your dwelling.
DURING THE EARTHQUAKE:
- If indoors, stay there. Duck under a desk or table. Stay clear
of windows, fireplaces and heavy appliances.
- If outside, get into the open. Stay away from buildings, trees
and power lines.
- If in a car, pull to the side of the road. Stay away from
overpasses, bridges or power lines.
For further information, the front section of telephone
directories includes a survival guide with first aid information
for earthquakes and other emergencies.
PURIFICATION OF DRINKING WATER or HOW TO PURIFY WATER FOR
If water is polluted with dirt or sediment, strain it into a
container through paper towels, paper coffee filters, or several
layers of clean cloth to remove any sediment or floating matter.
Disinfect the strained water with a 5.25% sodium hypochlorite
solution (liquid household chlorine bleach) OR with tincture of
DO NOT use the granular form of household bleach, it is
NOTE: If liquid chlorine bleach is older than one year,
the amount used should be doubled, as it loses strength over
Purchase an eye dropper to add bleach or iodine to the water.
Use the eye dropper for this purpose ONLY. Mix well by stirring
or shaking the water in a container. Let stand for 30 minutes
A slight chlorine odor should be detectable in the water. If
not, repeat the dosage and let stand for an additional 15 minutes
If the water can be boiled, boil at a rolling boil for 5 minutes.
(10 is safer). This should remove any harmful bacterial
contamination. If you are in the mountains, add one
additional minute for each 1,000 feet of altitude.
Boiling for longer than 5 minutes is safer, but do this only if
you have the gas or fuel to spare.
Water purification tablets are available in drug stores and
sporting goods stores and are recommended for your first aid
kit. Follow the directions on the package to purify water.
Water purification tablets have a shelf life of 2 years and lose
their effectiveness if they get damp before use.
Purify only enough water at one time to last for 48 hours. This
will minimize the chances of re-contamination.